Dough Doctor answers your questions on stretching, sticky dough and temperature controls
Q: I’ve heard you mentioned that there was an ingredient that we could use to reduce the snap-back of our dough, making hand stretching a lot easier for us. What was that ingredient?
A: The ingredient that I made reference to is PZ-44. This ingredient is what we call a “reducing agent.” When used in a dough, it will cause the dough to become softer and more extensible (less elastic). What this means is that it will not exhibit the snap-back characteristics during hand, or machine forming. When adding any type of reducing agent to your dough, care must be taken to prevent using it in an excessive amount.
Since reducing agents work very fast, their effects can be readily seen while the dough is being mixed. Be aware that your mixing time will most likely be shorter than normal. And also, keep in mind that these materials don’t stop working in the cooler, so your dough may become overly soft if stored in the cooler for more than two days. When used correctly, these ingredients can be great assets, especially if you shape your dough skins using a dough press. When a dough press is used, it is common to see the dough shrink back as the pressure is released from the press head. Judicious use of a reducing agent can reduce or eliminate this shrinkage, resulting in consistently sized pizza skins.
My dough is sticky and doesn’t easily come out of the mixing bowl. Any tips?
A: On one of my recent trips out to a pizzeria I observed how the mixer operator was struggling with the dough while cutting it into pieces so it could be removed from the bowl and taken to the bench for cutting and balling. After watching him work with the first dough, I asked him to let me know when the next dough was finished mixing.
When the dough mixing was complete, I had him put the mixer in first speed and begin mixing. I then showed him how to pour a very small amount of oil down the inside of the bowl so it would get spread around by the dough ball as it was driven around in the bowl by the hook. After just a few revolutions, the mixer was stopped and I instructed him to now remove the dough from the bowl without cutting it into pieces. Presto! The dough literally popped out of the bowl without any effort at all. That sure made his job a lot easier. While I’ve known about this trick for more years than I care to admit to, it was new to him. Like they say, “It’s the little things that sometimes count the most.”
How important is it to have the water temperature right for active dry yeast?
A: The water temperature used to activate any type of dry yeast is really pretty important if you have a concern over yeast performance, and I think we all have an interest in that. In all cases, active dry yeast must be hydrated before it can be added to the dough, and in some cases, instant dry yeast must also be hydrated. Take note that the correct water temperature to use when hydrating IDY is 95 F. If the water temperature is too hot the yeast cells can be heat/thermal damaged, but if the water is too cold, you stand the risk of allowing some of the plasma material contained within the yeast cell(s) to leach out during the hydration process. This material, when removed from the cell, can result in the development of an unusually soft or in some cases sticky dough consistency, and extensive damage to the yeast cells from which the material was removed. All in all, good things do not happen when dry yeast is allowed to hydrate in water at a temperature other than that which is recommended by the manufacturer.
Also, while we’re on the topic of hydrating dry yeast, keep in mind that when the directions say to hydrate the yeast in water at say, 100 to 105 F, only a small quantity of the total water needs to be at that temperature, only about five times the weight of the yeast. The rest of the water should be at a temperature that will give you a finished dough within the desired or targeted, temperature range.
Tom Lehmann is a former director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas and Pizza Today’s resident dough expert.